Thatcher Bohrman

Welcome to The Hotel Zoomifornia

clown motel signStory by Jared Reynolds

This past summer I taught a summer course, which, as you know are pretty short. It is really important to meet every class since the normal 16 week course is condensed to 8. So everything was going fine with the class and then, just like an unexpected car slamming into another, it happened: vacation plans. Turns out that one of my course meetings would fall victim to some vicious summer fun. What would I do? The class material was already condensed enough. How would I cover all of the material and administer all of the assessments? All of a sudden, it came to me, just like angels singing… Zoom. “I can Zoom!” I thought to myself. I quickly (and as nonchalantly as possible) asked my wife what our plans were for the day in question.

Turns out, we didn’t have anything going on in the morning, “Perfect!” I thought to myself, “I can do class in the morning from the hotel room.” This was still going to be a long shot, though. I have four kids and a wife, all of whom would be in the hotel room with me. Hmmm, kids that act like they are in a circus, in a hotel room with a wife that wants vacation and not for her hubby to be working. “I can do it.” I said to myself, as if I were a mad scientist tapping his fingertips together. Fortunately, I explain my situation to my wife and she buys it. I notify the students of the situation and that we were going to meet on Thursday online. They too bought the idea and really, why not? Class from home? Nice! Before we knew it, we were off to vacation-land. I have to admit, I wondered if having class, given these horrible circumstances, would work.

Well, the day came. My lesson was ready and Zoom was open on my computer. I quickly acquired a join link for the meeting and post the link in the announcements for the class. Shortly after, as sure and the sun was shining, one, two, three… until: ten, ten students in the online class with me running the show. They all joined, participated, and the class went on with me able to see their happy faces just as I did in the classroom. I taught as normal (switching between presentation and activities), asked questions as normal, and it all happened online! After the class was over I asked the students if they liked having class from home and they, unanimously, said yes.

Ever since that day I have wanted to teach a WebLive class. The WebLive (what we are proposing to call this modality) model using Zoom has a lot going for it. Teachers and students are afforded the ability to participate live in an online class from the convenience of home while sacrificing little. Everyone can see each other, teachers can share their presentations from their screen instead of a projector, with no driving, no putting on shoes, no sitting next to that other person that may make you a little uncomfortable – none of that! So ,off I go into the wild blue frontier of WebLive teaching. Wish me luck!

Zoom HigherEd Case Studies


Do Teaching Videos Work?

I was lucky to see a fantastic talk about learning at Instructure Con 2015 by Derek Mueller, host of Veritasium, a popular YouTube Channel about science. It’s popular because it’s fun, interesting, and well-made – and he is great on-camera talent – but part of its success is also due to science applied to video-making.

Derek has a PhD in Philosophy, and his thesis paper is titled “Designing Effective Multimedia for Physics Education”.

His paper, and his keynote, was about how people learn, and how revealing and acknowledging misconceptions is a way to open minds to learning. Simply lecturing about a subject, he says, is fairly ineffective, but by creating confusion in the learner, and showing them other people going through their own learning process, is effective in helping people to grasp concepts more deeply. It’s another example of how our ideas of how learning happens don’t always jibe with reality.